"Confessions of God: The Gospel According to St. JohnThomas Didymus" is a post-modern romp that is 1/3 mystery, 1/3 conspiracy theory and 1/3 Joycean epiphany.
It isn't an easy read but one that enchanted me.
The novel is broken into eight books with a prologue and epilogue and centers on the ruminations of JohnThomas Didymus who operates as hero and pseudonymous author.
It begins with the hero's stay in a mental hospital travels through an alternative Christian resurrection story down to various theories on the unification of reality and finally lands on an apocalyptic first-person perspective wrought with subjective meaning.
The novel reads like post-modern scripture and renders an implicit argument to the effect that deep religious certainty is best held within advanced autism and solipsism.
The choice of the author (who shall remain nameless here but for disclosure's sake is a colleague and friend) to attribute the authorship to his hero is an essential creative device in amplifying the novel's theme.
The theme is best stated by the author in Book 5 "The Temptations",
"Life and existence are a riddleBut a good riddleIs a good fiddleYou may want to play to any tune which suits your fancy."
The nature of religious conviction is exposed as the hero journeys by way of religious epiphany towards ontological certainty. Didymus embodies hints of St. Paul in his sense of glorified persecution, Mohammad and Joseph Smith in their revelatory convictions and St. John of Patmos in his yearning apocalyptic.
There is even a hint to the technical Christian philosophy of men like Alvin Plantinga or Richard Swinburne and New Age theoretician Deepak Chopra in the author/hero's insistence that his scientific scholarship while non-falsifiable remains valid due to its inner conviction to its personal meaning. Our hero/author explains while speaking of himself as both observer and reporter,
"He lived dangerously on the edge of mental chaos at which he was free to expand unlimitedly beyond mere synthesis; explore new conceptual approaches to old problems, armed with a magicians hat which imposed no binding pre-conditions of logic in the divergence of his mind to infinity."
Men like Swinburne and Plantinga misuse the mathematics of Bayesian theory to argue from probability the likelihood of miracles without giving assent to the necessary zero-probability of miraculous priors. Chopra speaks of Quantum events as if small-scale physics is related to the numinous feelings he packages. "Confessions of God" uses the musings of its hero to contextualize the category of serious modern theologies and exposes them all as a complicated self-deference.
I enjoyed this book and if you are given to choose fantastic entertainments that conceal their ideological arguments in technical craftsmanship like David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest"; the magical realism of Salman Rushdie; or the films of Darren Aronofsky then I think you will enjoy this book too.
Strong recommendations for "Confessions of God" as an intelligent expose on how religious certainty begins and ends with self-centered conviction.